Apoptosis is a physiological mechanism of cell death. Defects in the apoptosis machinery may lead to serious disease such as: autoimmune disease, cancer, drug resistance in tumors, and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Autoimmune diseases affect 3-5% of the population and are characterized by the activity of autoreactive lymphocytes that produce antibodies targeting self tissue for destruction. Genetic and environmental factors both influence autoimmune disease occurrence. Although the pathogenesis of these diseases is poorly understood, firm evidence links the process of apoptosis to the induction of autoimmune disease. In this review we will attempt to outline the recent findings that highlight the etiologies of some autoimmune diseases such as: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Type 1 diabetes mellitus (IDDM), Multiple sclerosis (MS), Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and autoimmune thyroid disease.
Keywords: apoptosis, autoimmune disease, bcl, bcl-xl, granzyme b
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